When Covid-19 hit Kenya, concerts were one of the casualties of a ban on public gatherings.
This forced artistes to change strategy and go virtual while trying to earn a slice of the Sh100 million stimulus package President Uhuru Kenyatta directed for the industry.
Sports and Culture Amina Mohamed CS said, “The Sh100 million is not a reservoir of free funds, but a provision to educate, innovate, sustain and improve our output as a sector.” She said it sough to nurture talent to ensure the sector remains a significant contributor to the economy post-Covid.
Kenya Film Commission CEO Timothy Osewe said the funds for those in the film industry were disbursed to the actors and filmmakers. “In the music industry we are not involved and the relevant body I hope is doing something towards supporting musicians,” he said.
Clubs were also closed for the better part of the year and so DJs were also affected. Many started holding their shows on social media. However, that slowly changed as they were hit with copyright claims from different platforms.
The biggest entertainment platforms during this pandemic have been virtual shows, where artistes perform with no physical audience. Millions of fans accepted this new normal and would support their favourite artistes on the different platforms they performed in.
Speaking ahead of the ‘Kenyan Ni Yetu’ virtual concert in August, singer Eric Wainaina said people will get used to the new normal even after the pandemic is over.
“It has made us devise different ways to do and share music,” he said.
Benga musician Muchoki Ndirangu, known to many as Samidoh, said most of his fans had no access to online platforms.
“Previously our fans supported us by attending our shows, which thrived on crowds, but now our music is only available on online platforms, which a big number of our audience hasn’t embraced much,” he said.
Adding that his lesson is that you can never invest enough for a rainy day. “Live music has come to be accepted as a big deal in this country and it is the way to go for any serious artiste since it is accepted by all audiences.”
Songbird Suzanna Owiyo said the pandemic had made her reflect a lot on the purpose of life.
“Life can change drastically. I have realised we are not in control of our destinies,” she said.
“It’s high time we recognise the value in people around us. Every creature on earth is worthy of our respect and care. We can only succeed through cooperation. A crisis of this magnitude requires cooperation on all fronts.”
She urged her fans to accept the change as the artistes have come up with different innovative ways to keep the music alive. “The future of live music is bright! Even in the middle of the crisis, music has not died.”
Concerts were cancelled and when the country started opening up, few concerts were announced but with few attendance from fans.
“The last concert, headlined by ‘Maserati’ hitmaker Olakira from Nigeria, was a flop. Not many people attended and he was getting into stage just hours to curfew time, how could people even wait?” a fan told Word Is
In August, The Virgin Money Unity Arena in the UK prided itself in being the World’s first social-distanced concert venue. Probably, a concept Kenyan promoters and music organisers can borrow from.